Not really—this is what is known as “fake news,” quite common in the USA. There are even news agencies that have departments to cultivate fake news. It is apparently not hard to do—take some item of “real news” and twist and turn it a bit. Like “Trump goes to Germany” and add “because he dislikes their leader.” Then mix in some other garbage and you have a headline that was once the property of the trashy tabloids.

So I am imagining some fake news. Tex-Rex, known as TR in Waco, Texas, is a large shepherd dog weighing in at 70 pounds. According to our local paper, “He’s got to be the most popular guy at school. It’s his hair , his eyes, the way he walks down the hallway.”

TR is the leader of a worship team and “The dog just gets us there and allows us to do ministry.” TR isn’t confined to Waco—he has now travelled across the US, visiting schools, churches and dog shows. He is destined to go overseas, but not to the Philippines, where it is rumored he might be eaten.

The local Methodist Church coordinating council has discussed when (not if) TR can be ordained. They are working on a set of standards for Canine Celebration, as they call it. One that has slowed them down for some time is Rule 134, “The dog must be trained so that it will not urinate in the sanctuary.” Another is rule 220, a gender neutral proclamation, declaring that “A dog must not show affection to other dogs.” Canines, it seems, are not sanctuary-conscious and are prone to “inappropriate sexual behaviour” when around other dogs.

The Canine Council is positive that dogs can be trained to obey all of its rules but will conduct “Canine Owner Therapy Sessions” each Thursday evening for the next three months. Owners are reminded to BYOD (Bring your own dog). Dog bones and biscuits will be available for a small donation but flea power will be free.

TR and his owner have jumped through all the hoops and have now visited hospitals, nursing homes, schools and prisons in the area. The response has been awe-inspiring. One child (in 8th grade) at the Live Oak school wrote “I’m thankful for TR and Jesus” and another penned: “I’m pleased for my i-phone and all my teachers who love dogs.” The impact upon the city as a whole has bewildered the City Council. The Mayor now supports the Canine Traveling Trio and has ratified their effort by having signs erected on all the intersections of Franklin street with this stirring endorsement: “Dog tired? Contact the Canine Committee.” There is some talk that a special section of the Waco Zoo will be devoted to dogs.

It wasn’t easy for TR or his (yes, it is a male dog) owner to comply with all the Canine Committee Rules. To fulfill Rule 134, TR is not allowed anything to drink for two days before a visit to a hospital or school. If it is a prison visit, the rules are somewhat more relaxed.

In fact, TR is now so relaxed that he often falls asleep on his visits, especially to retirement homes, where most of the residents are asleep as well.

The ordination will be a big deal: Dogs will be invited from other states and from Europe. The German Prime Minister, who has the best bred and well behaved dogs on the planet, will come. She will be bringing a German Shepherd, a Wolfspitz, and a large Münsterländer. Not to be outdone, Prince Charles will have with him an Airedale Terrier, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and an English Bulldog, whose face is said to resemble Winston Churchill. So far the French have declined the invitation, but, if they come, so will le beagle, le boxer, and le bouledogue, whose face is said to resemble Charles de Gaulle.

The dog convention cannot happen too fast to suit Waco city. For years all the attention has gone to the “Fixer Upper” and the Magnolia silos but their fame can’t last forever. Something new is called for and the Canine Committee are convinced that the TR ordination will be a show-stopper.

They envision a truly ecumenical service with the local Catholic Bishop sprinkling holy water on TR and a Jewish Rabbi offering him Challah, Babka and Bagels. The Methodist minister, who will hold TR during the ordination will offer a prayer. Its first line has already been published and goes something like this (translated from the Latin): “We humbly beseech thee, thou who licked the sores of Lazarus, to imbibe all canine lovers with the proper respect and dignity to thee TR and, by solemn decree, afforded to others of the animal kingdom…”

It will be a grand occasion—the town will put on the dog, so to speak. There will be a minimum fee of $5 to cover the costs of the dog food and robe that TR will wear.

December 2017